Business: Anatolia Art & Craft Studio
Owner: Via Asal, 45, of Ventnor
Location: 6616 Ventnor Ave., Ventnor
Anatolia Art & Craft Studio has the kind of exquisite and exotic handmade accessories that have made the Ten Thousand Villages chain a go-to place for gifts that are distinctive yet reasonably priced.
What’s really cool about the studio, though, is that nearly everything is made by Via Asal, who as worker and owner is kind of a world-craft village unto herself.
Asal’s handiwork reflects ancient traditions from Anatolia, a Greek part of Turkey.
A large selection of jewelry combines intricate lacework with metals, stones and beads. A $30 bracelet, for example, combines inch-wide lacework that connects with floral metal clasps.
Hand-crocheted and knitted hats are priced at $25, and one shows just how unique a handmade item can be: A gray-knit hat is a pretty accurate replication of an ancient Greek warrior’s helmet, complete with raised crest and moveable face shield. That’s $55.
Most items, though, appeal to a feminine sense of beauty. There are many shawls, purses and small bags, scarves and mittens in the latest fingerless style.
One shawl that combines lacework with crocheting looks like freshly fallen snow.
A glass case displays a selection of handmade yarmulkes in a variety of styles.
Asal said she studied and practiced handcrafts intensively from early childhood, growing up in a town on the Black Sea.
“When I was a small child, my mother said, ‘All the time keep your hands making something,’” she said.
Her elementary school was an arts and crafts school for girls, and after graduating high school she attended an advanced arts and crafts school.
Asal took business courses in Philadelphia in preparation for opening Anatolia Art & Craft Studio. She does a lot of her creative work during the store’s slow winter hours, producing the inventory for the busy summer season.
Custom-made items are a specialty. She said a local rabbi wanted an embroidered symbol for his garment, while a bridal party wanted matching necklaces for seven bridesmaids and earrings for the bride’s mother.
A family brought in a 39-year-old wedding dress, and from its fabric Asal created a new wedding dress for the daughter.
She said she’d like to offer classes, perhaps this summer, and has lots of good ideas for other things to create. Maybe pillows will be next.